Preppy women overcome by mystery “Pink Fever”

AP: JACKSONVILLE, FL:

A mysterious illness, which is currently being nicknamed “Pink Fever” began appearing in Palm Beach, Florida by a select group of females. Rapidly however more cases are popping up daily across the country and doctors are scratching their heads in confusion.

Dr. Joseph McKim of Jacksonville, Florida describes early symptoms as the increasing desire to wear bright, loud clothes with unusual creatures that appear painted on, such as starfish, monkeys, and elephants.

“Gradually,” he says, “Victims’ of Pink Fever speech becomes impaired. They can’t help themselves. They start saying things like ‘Oh, shello’ and claiming that that they’re starting to feel ‘trunky.’”

As the disease progresses victims are unable to put down their smartphones and begin obsessively checking Facebook buy, sell, trade groups and refreshing their eBay pages. They speak on odd fragments of speech and refer to their clothes by unusual names like Elsa and Essie.

“It’s unknown at this time,” Dr. Lillian Rousseau, a family doctor in Charleston, South Carolina says, “how this illness could progress. We could see fewer neutrals in winter, a drop in clothes sales in colors black and brown. We don’t fully understand what’s happening here.” 

Dr. Rousseau shakes her head and reaches for a pink, mint, and teal dolphin patterned handkerchief from her pocket and dabs her forehead. “I mean, good reef! We don’t even know what the shell is going out there!”

Doctors hope they will soon be able to understand Pink Fever well enough to work on a vaccine. Until then victims must trudge through their days of Target runs in hot pink Hunter rain boots while clutching their Starbucks cups tightly in their hands and looking around worriedly. They must remain calm and try not to coral amongst themselves as they focus on hanging with fronds who understand and sea them for who they really are. Shorely, the answers were searching for are out there but until scientists understand more they recommend you tropicall your doctor if you begin to feel tanked.

The Here & Now

In today’s “Things I never thought I’d do with a child”: Sleeping with a lovey.

My anxiety was SO through the roof with my first. I truly worried every day I was pregnant and was convinced she would come out impaired or deformed in some way. Then when she was born I was convinced she wouldn’t make it to thirty alive. I was so afraid the doctor would make me supplement with formula (which she honestly probably needed tbh because she didn’t want to hold still long enough to eat) that I didn’t take her for months. 🙈🙈🙈

I put this outfit on Olive today that I remember hanging off of Story at the same age, maybe older? And the guilt still comes in waves.

But overall I do feel myself relaxed in so many other ways. This is a new, very different child, and I already have very very different experiences with her.

It started with her birth. With Story I didn’t even let myself contemplate anything in a hospital or any kind of intervention or drugs. Turns out four days of labor leaves you fucking exhausted and NOT ready for pushing or birth or breastfeeding or even existing.

I didn’t get an award for that. I did get third degree tears and some ptsd thinking about how awful that birth was.

I’ve never even written a birth story about it partially because I hate to relive in and partially because I’ve blocked so much out.

This time around I went into birth giving myself so much more grace. I gave myself 30ish hours of labor before asking for an epidural and that fucking thing was EVERYTHING. I was able to finally get a little bit of rest. Even just to lie on my back was just such an incredible relief.

Then when Olive came, I was able to focus on the pushing rather than the pain. I didn’t tear at all despite her being 2 lbs heavier at birth than her petite sister.

Even with breastfeeding I gave myself permission this time to give her formula. Fed is best. She’ll be fine. I repeated it over and over to remind myself. (But tbh I hoped to breastfeed only because formula is expensive as fuck.)

I ended up back in the hospital for eclampsia (a whole fun other story) but that extra time there gave me time to find a way to bf with a Lactation consultant’s help in a way that worked for us. I was tending my shoulders for the pain I knew was coming and still find myself doing it…and have to remind myself that this is not my experience this time. There’s no pain.

So back to this lovey thing. I always said I’d never go against recommendation to not put anything unsafe in a crib before one. Well…this kid doesn’t take a paci. Is this ideal? No. I don’t let her sleep with it at night. I sneak in after she’s asleep and steal it back. And for naps I tuck it under her so it can’t get over her face, and continue to monitor her.

But my point is I’m such a different person these days. Once I acknowledged my anxiety and started getting help it helped me develop coping mechanisms.

Reminding myself things are different.

Focusing on an outside thing and bringing it into focus. A mug. A plant. A picture. A smell. A memory. Something that disrupts the cycle and helps your whole body refocus. Deep breathing. Mentally pushing your shoulders back down out of a tense position like that Lactation consultant did for me in the hospital.

You got this, mama.

Valentines for Your Littlest Valentines

Valentines Day is right around the corner!

As my four and a half year old daughter Story gets older I love having fun celebrating smaller holidays with her in little, memorable ways. It could be as simple as buying a sheet or a few sheets of holiday themed window clings from the Dollar Spot at Target and decorating our bathroom mirrors ($1/sheet), but it’s important to me we celebrate the little things together.

This year, now that we’re expecting another little one I wanted to make Valentine’s Day a little extra special for Story to remind her of how important she is and still will be once the baby comes along later this year.

I asked some friends how they make Valentine’s Day special for their littles without going overboard because, let’s face it, Easter is also right around the corner. Many friends agreed they tend to save larger gifts for Easter and instead prefer little reminders and family activities centering around love and kindness for Heart Day.With Valentine’s Day only a week away, I decided to spend a morning in my Happy Place (aka Target) gathering ideas for inexpensive ways to show our littles they’re extra special and extra loved on Valentine’s Day.

Acts of Love & Kindness

Don’t want to give an obvious monetary gift? Here are some ideas that incorporate Acts of Kindness to try out!

Heart shaped or mini waffles for breakfast (and/or Breakfast for Dinner)

I found this DASH blush pink mini waffle maker at Target in the Home section for $9.99. It would make the cutest mini waffles and if your child is a little older they could even help make them with you or you could team up together to make them for your partner. Add berries and fun shapes with whipped cream and you’re all set for an inexpensive but memorable meal together.

Not great in the kitchen? No worries! I haven’t found a person alive who detests Little Debbie’s Be My Valentine snack cakes ($2 for a box of 10 snack cakes).

Love notes on their door

I was so happy Target restocked their heart shaped chalkboard shapes ($1 for a pack of 5) they had in their Dollar Deals last Valentine’s Day. I ended up using all of mine from last year for various crafts around the house and as labels for food at Story’s birthday party last summer. But these or any other heart shaped or regular notes would be adorable to stick on your children’s doors overnight with reminders of how special and loved they are so they have positive affirmations to wake up to.If you don’t think you can keep up with nightly or daily love notes, opt for a simple, seasonal decoration on your child’s door. Story loves changing out the wreaths or decorations hanging on her door with each holiday. Many of Target’s Dollar Spot decorations like the gold sequin XO, purple and pink hearts, wooden heart, and Be Mine garland pictured here, are $3 and under each!

I Heart You and Here’s Why Book

This book was $6.99 at Target (on an endcap with Valentine’s Day mugs in the Home section) and for an older child who can read, I think this is such a truly thoughtful idea. The pages are beautifully filled with quotes about love but also have spaces to write in notes like, “A song that always reminds me of you is:” and “I can’t get enough of your:”Even if your child isn’t old enough to read yet, you might consider filling out this book and reading it to them, or filling it out and simply putting it away until they’re older. (PS Take note, husbands! I’m pretty sure any of your wives would be over the moon to receive such a thoughtful gift from you, filled out with lots of compliments of course!)

Bath bombs!

My absolute favorite bath bombs (which I post frequently on my Instagram about) are Da Bomb Fizzers which Target sells for $4.99 each (in the bath items section and also online). Da Bomb Fizzers always has fun seasonal bath bombs in yummy scents. We’ve enjoyed collecting fall leaf charms from their autumn collection and Christmas decoration charms from inside their Christmas bath bombs. And I LOVE their tiny donut keychains and necklaces from their Cake Bombs. I was so excited to see Da Bomb Fizzers now has Valentine’s Day themed Love Bombs, Hug Bombs, and Kiss Bombs. My daughter and I still often takes baths together and I love how excited she gets when I bring home new bath bombs to try out. We both get to relax, spend some time together, and enjoy the bath bomb, as well as get excited over the mystery of what kind of little prize or token will be inside.

Craft Time

There were several craft kits and ideas found throughout Target, in the Dollar Deals, Stationary, and seasonal aisles. You could build and decorate a Valentine mailbox together, or stick heart stickers onto a small DIY wreath together. My fave craft I found was the DIY Pom Pictures craft which was $3 in the Dollar Deals. My Target had two options: emojis and conversation hearts. I chose emojis because Story loves them and can’t read yet to appreciate the conversation heart craft. With this craft there are two emojis with sticker faces. Simply peel off the adhesive backing and stick the pom poms on to the sticky part to create a picture together.

Other fun ideas from the Dollar Deals were an Acrylic Tic Tac Toe game with hearts and O’s ($3); a conversation heart Art Felt-folio which consisted of an envelope pouch with handles, a sketch pad, and crayons ($3); and Spritz Heart Chalk ($2.99 in the Stationary section) which would be fun for drawing love notes on the sidewalk together.

Not feeling crafty?

Try small inexpensive non-candy items such as lip balm (Story adores the chubby EOS lip balms), fun colored or designed Band Aids; a fun pencil case (like the conversation hearts one, $3 in the Dollar Deals); a small necklace (the Cat & Jack locket pictured was $4.99 in the children’s department) or bow ($1 from Dollar Deals) or earrings (Cat & Jack has sets for $4.99). Or grab this adorable Cat & Jack glitter heart purse ($9.99 in children’s department) for your little and take her out for an ice cream or movie date together.

Whatever you decide to do with your Heart Day I hope it’s full of cuddles and kisses and lots and lots of love.

Cheers!

Sarah

livelovecolorfully

PS Pictured but not mentioned: the gorgeous fuzzy background in all these pictures is a blush pink 50″x60″ faux fur throw by Project 62 also from Target and found in the Home Department for $34.99.

Your vibe attracts your tribe and my vibe is caffeine and alcohol

Sooo I’m about to start a local group to find some like minded friends.

I live north of Jacksonville and it’s so big and spread out that the few friends I do have here outside of Navy aren’t close enough for meeting up easily. And the ones I do have I consider good friends are moving. Because military.

So I’ve had it. I tried Bumble BFF and it’s too hard to reply to so many people and message multiple people long emails over and over.

And like there are lots of “mommy” meet ups but I don’t want to end up talking babywearing and breastfeeding and whatnot. Don’t get me wrong- I have my fair share of essential oils, I buy organic when I can, I loved babywearing and toddlerwearing and was even a brand ambassador of my fave babywearing company, I was vegan for three years-I have been and sometimes am still considered crunchy (I mean, Whole Foods does have some fucking amazing wine and 10% off for buying a case, AMIRITE?!)

I ran into this lady one time at Ulta when my kid was a three-nager running circles around me (literally- she thought it’d be funny to tangle my arms up) and I was losing my shit and this woman bestows her knowledge upon me that she HOMESCHOOLED HER 7 CHILDREN. When the lady in front of her overheard and asked her astonishingly, “Oh, my, how?!” the lady replied, raising her hand to the sky, “By the Grace of God.”

And I believe in the GRACE OF WINE and could not get away fast enough.

Like I just want to be around people who get me. And are like me. And offer to bring wine and let the kids run amok when I’m having a shitty day. Any my friend who is that to me currently is leaving. And my best friend in the whole world is in Maryland.

And I want to cry and go to Starbucks for the second time today already. I legit spent 3 hours at target today.

SO. Here’s what I’m going to do.

I’m going to start a group. And here’s my description for my group/want ad I wrote out in my Happy Place, the Starbucks inside Target of course:

Snarky, foul mouthed thirtyish SAHM ISO new besties for meet ups to include trips to Starbucks to chat about the latest thing your toddler has done/said/broken; wine tasting dates; brunches with or without little people (because, let’s face it, germs & lack of sitters); milkshakes at Chick Fil A (because fuck the germs, they have a play place and therefore we have minutes to ourselves).

Must love long strolls down the Dollar Deals aisle at Target.

Must share excessive use of the F bomb in daily convos.

Must believe yoga pants are pants and therefore entirely appropriate for every day attire.

Must be willing to text each other to spread awareness about the latest Kate Spade Surprise Sale asap.

Must not be opposed to or judgy against mimosas before 9am.

Must swear to a no judgement law against excessive screen time use as a babysitter (hey, there’s some fucking educational shit on the iPad too).

Bonus points for:

◦ Mug collection addictions

◦ Preference for brut champagne

◦ Own at least one monogram

◦ The Starbucks baristas (at at least one location) recognize you

◦ You’ve said “On Wednesday’s we wear pink” or “You can’t sit with us” in the past three months

◦ You idolized and imitated every Buffy the Vampire Slayer hair cut growing up and/or still remember a character from the show’s snarky one liner

◦ You know the difference between mint and teal.

◦ 8 or more basic tees from Target are in your closet

◦ You’ve called your animal(s) fur babies

◦ You’ve called yourself “Mom to furbaby” at least once

◦ You want to join a bookclubs but are not sure if you can commit to reading a certain book each month, or attending a monthly night Meetup, or you’re afraid the group will take themselves and their book WAY too seriously (“We get that there’s a theme, Karen, but you don’t have to bring it up in every fucking discussion.”

◦ Excessive koozies everywhere (extra bonus points if any of them are a Lilly Pulitzer pattern)

◦ You’ve said, “Well, bless her heart” and you’re not even from the south

◦ Can’t decide whether you love or hate glitter (its soooo pretty and you love buying stuff with it but if the kid even mentions glitter or slime you cover your ears)

◦ You own something Kate Spade other than a bag

◦ Amazon Prime is another bestie of yours

◦ You want a farmhouse table but cringe thinking about its future crayon/Sharpie/paint/booger/spaghetti/pen/unknown stains.

◦ You know the difference between macaron and macaroon and it irks you when people misplace the words.

◦ You’ve contemplated asking a random girl for her number in the Homegoods/TJMaxx/Marshall’s because obviously anyone who can’t have enough thank you notes or cute motivational signs or notepads is your soul sister.

◦ You’re nodding yes to almost every one of these descriptions.

And if you’re nodding yes to pretty much any of these descriptions, PLEASE, for the love of all that is holy and caffeinated, meet me at the Starbucks in Target and we’ll go see Bad Moms Christmas together after clearing out the Dollar Deals. Don’t worry- the movie theater has wine.

PS I need club name ideas! Champagne Tribe? Basic Moms Unite? Hot Mess Moms Club? Wine Tribe? Moms Who Cuss?

Gallery Wall Obsessed (Part 1)

If you’ve been following me for a while you have probably figured out I really love home decor and I’m also pretty into gallery walls. I have a few gallery walls throughout our home, but I have been working on my living room wall for the past month or so (well, longer if you count how long I’ve been gathering pieces to put on it! 🙈).

Unlike the other walls in my house I wanted this wall to be the most personal and to feature more photos of our family as opposed to just pieces I love since it’s very prominent- right behind our sofa in the room we probably spend the most time in.
Needless to say, adding in personal photos makes making choices on this wall entirely more challenging. I’ve ordered photos at least 4 times, sometimes ordering multiple sizes and crops of the same image to achieve exactly what I want.

I also can’t begin to tell you how many craft store and home goods type store trips I’ve made to find the right frames for pieces. Eek!

I’m still perfecting the wall so I’m not ready to share the whole thing yet today but wanted to zoom in on a few of my fave pieces.

If you’ve followed me a while you know I’m very inspired by Lilly Pulitzer prints, stores, and especially their dressing rooms. 

Lilly dressing rooms often have a mint door with a gold L on the front. My house already has mostly mint walls. Last year I had several statement walls and a few rooms painted entirely in a gorgeous mint color which I found by taking my favorite Starbucks tumbler into Lowes and matching it to paint samples.

Ultimately I went with Valspar Ocean Whisper with accents here in there in Valspar’s Lucky You.

When modeling my walk in closet (which I’ll do a full post on soon!) after Lilly dressing rooms and also the gallery wall in the stairwell of the Lilly Pulitzer Madison Avenue store (which I got to visit in NYC in 2015h I knew I had to find a similar letter S for the gallery wall in my closet. I lucked out and found the perfect serif letter at Hobby Lobby. 

This M is the same style from Hobby Lobby and was originally black. A few coats of Krylon Metallic Gold later it’s exactly what I envisioned and I think it’s the perfect statement piece to pop against my mint wall and stand out against my other pieces.

On the bottom in a basic 4×4 frame from Homegoods is a card by @perlaannepress. I discovered Stacey of Perla Anne Press at the Charleston Farmers Market when we lived there and went to the farmers market downtown every weekend. I have such fond memories of picking up bunches of basil at the organic stand a few stands down from Perla Anne and listening to live music under the trees. When we lived in Charleston we were at the farmers market practically every week, kid in tow to soak in the beignets, the local artists, the friendly, home town feel.

All of Perla Anne Press pieces encompass that small business, home town feel but with an air of a certain je ne sais quoi. Each piece is hand printed by Stacey using blocks of wood or linoleum that she hand carved. Every one varies slightly due to the ink impressions. I love each piece’s bold image or lettering and also really appreciate the variations that make each piece unique. 

I remember a few months before Story was born how excited I was to finally buy a piece I’d been eying weekly by Perla Anne Press to hang on Story’s gallery wall in her nursery and was thrilled to come back months later to tell Stacey how much we still loved it.


Since that first piece, a vintage camera, I’ve bought several more, another favorite being a quote by Laura Ingalls Wilder, “Home is the nicest word there is.” 

With this piece on my living room gallery wall, I’d heard this quote recently on Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast in an episode about wedding quotes. I fell in love with the simplicity of this quote, especially with how it relates to life as a military spouse. “We we’re together. I forget the rest.” 

Our houses change. Our home ports change. Our lives grow and change, as do we. But as long as we’re together that’s home, and nothing else really matters.

Perla Anne Press is on Instagram at http://instagram.com/perlaannepress and Etsy at https://www.etsy.com/shop/perlaanne. She can also be found at the Charleston Farmers Market in Marion Square on Saturdays and in the Charleston City Market other times. She also just added an adorable children’s board book to her shop that I’m dying to get my hands on. Check her out!

Gallery wall hack: I’m a really big fan in general of using cards as artwork. It can be tricky sometimes to find the right sized frame as sometimes they can be awkwardly sized, but overall they’re an easy, inexpensive way to decorate a wall with smaller, unique pieces, leaving more room for larger photos, statement pieces, and artwork. And worse comes to worse, you can always use a matte to help make the card fit into a frame.

On the top is a needlepoint by my dear friend Abi. I’ve been wanting a needlepoint of our family for a long time (my friend Lauren has such a cute one and we are totally on the same wavelength so I was jelly of hers). My friend Abi whom I knew from my book club in Charleston and who I text weekly about new podcasts and YA lit is an incredibly talented needlepoint artist and recently started her own small business creating them. 

She custom made this for me, complete with me in a Lilly dress (duh), and I am in love. Her eye and attention to detail is so on point, even adding more color to our cat Abby to give her more texture than just solid black (because she’s really more calico). 

I just love this piece so much! It’s so me in that I love needlepoint pieces and pieces that are unique- but it’s still very personal to me and my family. Not just that it’s of my family, but it was from someone I care about so I think of my friend Abi and our book club times and podcasts chats whenever I see this piece.

I paired this needlepoint with a hot pink embroidery hoop from a craft store.

If you would like a custom piece of your own Abi has an Instagram page (http://instagram.com/alcrossstitchcreations) and Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ALXStitchCreations.

I can’t wait to share more about my new fave gallery wall with y’all soon. In the meanwhile I’m still hunting down two picture frames to finish it. 😆😜

34 looks good on me (goodbye to blondeatthebeach)

Eight years ago my boyfriend at the time and I were living together in Charleston, SC while he was in nuclear power school there, preparing for a life in submarines.

We lived there a year together and moved in before I’d even received an “I love you” back from him. Talk about brave.

We’d adopted a puppy together, a rescue lab-border collie mix named Maggie, our first baby.

Now we were ending our time in Charleston, a time of growth for both of us, and moving on to our next destination: a life together, somewhere. That somewhere ended up being Hawaii.

In fall of 2009 Nick received orders to Pearl Harbor and we decided to continue our relationship there. In December he proposed to me in New York City in front of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. In February of 2010 we bought a house and moved to Hawaii together. In March of 2010 we were married in a quiet beach ceremony with a handful of friends.

In fall of 2009 when we first found out we would be moving to Hawaii in just a few short months, the name “Blonde at the Beach” popped into my head, and my online persona was born.

I began a blog, a website initially to write about our adventures in moving approximately 5,000 miles away from my home and family in a still-new relationship to what felt like an entirely new country.

I also blogged as a way of staying in touch with family, because back in the dark ages of 2010 our moms hadn’t joined Facebook yet. It was still mostly us recently graduated college students and most of our Facebook friends were people who were friends of friends of friends, or we may have met at a party or sorority social once, or we had a vague memory of making out with while chugging dollar beers at our local college dive bar. So a blog was a fantastic way to update family members on our new lives together.

As the years passed “Blondeatthebeach” truly took on a persona. My phone voicemail has been, “I’m sorry I can’t come to the phone right now but I’m probably at the beach” for as long as I can remember. I soaked up every second I could at various beaches in Hawaii, my go -to being the lagoons at Ko Olina where I found was a quick trip down the street following a work day and also had more parking and incredible sunsets in the evenings.

The blog rapidly developed into my stories about my time there. Through my @blondeatbeach twitter account I chatted with local Hawaii Five-0 fans as well as fans from out of the country about the show as I appeared as background throughout the first three seasons of the show. I was typically found on the beach on the background of the show which only added to my “at the beach” part of my persona.

I also have fond memories of actor Daniel Dae Kim approaching me on set one day after my tweeting that I was in a scene with him, asking me, “Are you Blonde at the Beach?” Later at the red carpet premiere of the show, I was even more flattered that he remembered who I was by my username. And in my last episode I worked in season three DDK (as I affectionately called him, pretending I was on a nickname basis with the actor) came over to say goodbye to me and to wish me luck after I tweeted him it was my last day.

When our time in Hawaii was through in 2012 we found we’d be returning to our number one choice, Charleston, SC once again. As I pondered changing my website/usernames on all media I quickly came to the conclusion that, as a submarine  Navy spouse, we were basically always guaranteed to be near the ocean and therefore the beach was forever applicable.

As time went on however our lives changed both in predictable and unpredictable ways.

We had a baby. Predictable (since we knew I was pregnant leaving Hawaii).

I experienced Postpartum Anxiety and Depression. Unpredictable.

After coming through a particularly rough first bout of anxiety/depression (with the help of an amazing therapist and occasional Xanax, yoga, and running), I rediscovered a love for bright colors.

As with my season depression I experienced through the years growing up in the northeast, it felt like the clouds were parting after a particularly cloudy, miserable winter and were opening to new rays of sunshine and hope. I grasped at it with both hands and pulled them to me.

Then I rediscovered Lilly Pulitzer.

In my newfound love for a brand of which I previously knew but had never really owned any pieces I discovered more about the brand’s creator Lilly, and learned her story.

Lillian McKim Pulitzer (and eventually Lilly Pulitzer Rousseau), better known as Lilly Pulitzer suffered a severe breakdown (now known as Postpartum Depression) shortly after giving birth to her third child. She was hospitalized and told by her doctor to “do something” to keep busy. (Incidentally my grandmother was given the same advice after also experiencing what would later be known as Postpartum Depression after one of her children’s births too. Doctors didn’t quite get mental illness in those days. Cue eye roll.)

It was because of the doctor’s advice that Lilly began putting together baskets of oranges from her husband’s orchards and selling them locally. Eventually, frustrated at not being able to sell “not as pretty,” bruised up, or otherwise damaged oranges Lilly began a juice stand. While juicing in the hot Florida sun Lilly wanted comfortable shifts to keep her cool but also bright patterns to hide the juice stains.

Years later, the Lilly Pulitzer brand is still going, churning out bright, happy prints and embracing the essence of resort wear with the feel of a beach vacay just on the tip of your tongue. Lilly Pulitzer patterns often tend to feature sea life like starfish, coral, octopi, waves, and mermaids adding to its beachy vibe.

It was stumbling across a pattern called Nice Tail (a gorgeous, blue, whimsical pattern featuring mermaids swimming with swirls of the ocean engulfing them) while emerging through a dark winter of emotional turmoil that I rediscovered and fell in love with Lilly Pulitzer.

As I began collecting more patterns I found my own preferences for earthy, relaxed, beach tones changing to those of soothing mints, preppy greens, happy corals, serene blues, and oh-so-cheerful pinks. Prior to Lilly I wouldn’t have been nearly as likely to wear a bright pink top. Now I own more than I care to count (because basically pink is my neutral). I also loved how the clothes fit me, draping comfortably on my postpartum body and helping me feel beautiful.

I wish I could say that after that initial diagnosis and recovery from Postpartum Anxiety and Depression (PPA/PPD) I became happy and involved and healed up but that’s just not the way the human mind works.

The truth is it has come back. The truth is that mental illness never really goes away. It’s just managed. And after a particularly tough reemergence last year I sought help once again, this time turning not only to professional help through a psychiatrist, but also to a more permanent/constant antidepressant presence. This time the difference was practically tangible.

As someone who has struggled with disordered eating and negative body image for most of my life Zoloft was life changing. Initially I remember repeating in my head after my doctor that she wanted me to be on Zoloft for at least 6 months before considering weaning off. “Okay, 6 months,” I thought. “As soon as that time is up I’ll be weaning off it stat.”

What actually happened though is that suddenly I wasn’t hearing echoey awful inner voices when I looked in the mirror. I was actually hearing nice things. Compliments even. That voice was now telling me things like, “your cheeks are glowy  today” and “look how happy and healthy you look!”

Zoloft is NOT a happy pill or chill pill and is not perfect. When you take it you’re not cured or and you don’t suddenly see everything in gold, glowing lights as thought you’re in a perfect paradise. I certainly don’t.

I’ve still had the occasional panic attack and lack of motivation or negative energy while on it but for the first time in my life I’m not being so hard on myself. I’m forgiving myself and letting go of things so much more easily than I ever was.

Something I noticed along the way was my preferences shifted depending on my anxiety and depression. Before beginning Zoloft I had begun shunning parts of my closet, steering away from bright colors and gravitating toward more navys and blacks. Even beige. (Gasp.) Colors that would allow me to blend in without allowing people to give me a second glance.

As my positivity returned however I once again began choosing to don brighter colors and patterns. I was beginning to notice a trend.

What if, maybe people who wear bright, happy colors aren’t necessarily naturally bright and cheerful on their own? What if it’s our perception of her choice in colors that makes us believe that that woman in the hot pink top and wild patterned shorts is an extrovert, the kind of person with whom you’d strike up a conversation easily at a party? 

And what if when that woman left the house that day she made a very conscious decision. Maybe her anxiety was kicking in. Maybe she sat behind the wheel of her car in the Target parking lot for almost ten minutes psyching herself up for the experience and attempting to convince herself she wouldn’t be bothering the customer service representative with her returns. Maybe, just maybe, she’s just faking it until she makes it.

That’s always been one of my favorite sayings. Fake it till you make it. I even used it in a job interview once.

On days where I don’t feel altogether and I can feel my inner voice seeping out and judging me, my appearance, my decisions, and my interactions- on those days I choose color.

Rather than blending in (which is what I want on those days) I bask in color. I let color bleed deep into my mind and into my thoughts until I’m practically glowing with an aura of confidence (or at least that’s what you’d think from looking at me). I fake it till I feel it. Till I truly am more confident.

While I am still in love with the ocean and the Vitamin Sea and spending time at beaches digging my toes into the sand and soaking up the sun when I can, I’ve changed along the way and it’s important for me to tell that story of how I’ve changed. Why I’m here today exactly the way I am, faults, mental illness, mistakes, and all.

Now I’m someone who lives and loves through photographs and bright colors. Even when I took a nearly year sabbatical from Facebook I was still so happy indulging myself in beautiful, colorful Instagram accounts. And I’m a such a sucker for anything mint and pink.

My daughter too has developed a love for color coordination and even earned the Skittles Award for being the “class fashionista who wore a rainbow of colors to school.” Her favorite color is “rainbow” or pink. And I love seeing her grow as a person and choose outfits and gifts for others out of her love for color and happiness.

So now here I am. I’m now 34 years old. I love my body more than I probably have in my whole life (thanks, Zoloft!). I’m here to advocate for mental illness awareness and to let you know that meds aren’t the end of the world and if you find the right ones they can really be life changing. I’m here to let you know that loving life is so much more important than just living life. 

And what would our world be if we all wore beige and there were no rainbows? Here’s to drinking the wild air and living life to the fullest spectrum of color you can harness.

Live. Love. Colorfully.